Public Speaking Tips for Authors


Authors, do you need to hone your presentation skills for your next speaking engagement, pitch, or interview? Maybe you’re joining us for Pitchapalooza? In today’s video, we share simple public speaking tips for authors.

Do authors need public speaking skills?

As an author, you’re called upon to do live performances or appear in media. As Truman Capote counseled young writers: “Socialize. Don’t just go up to a pine cabin all alone and brood. You will reach that stage soon enough anyway.”

And when you’re in front of an audience, you’ll need to present your book in a captivating way.

Public speaking tips for authors

Do some physical activity before you speak.

Do a physical/vocal warm-up so you’re not cold and stiff. Try jumping jacks. Get the blood pumping and boost your energy.

Take your time.

Too many authors rush through their presentations. Slow down. Pick places where you can pause and look out at the audience.

Take a glass of water with you.

David likes to take a glass of water with him because it slows him down. If you can’t think about what to say, take a sip and formulate your thoughts.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

No matter how comfortable you are in private, the natural instinct when you’re on the spot is to freeze up and squirm. And the first step toward overcoming that instinct is to have the pitch for your book down so cold you can do it in your sleep. Which will help when you have to do a radio interview at 4:15 in the morning.

Film yourself.

David has been a media coach for years. One of his most effective techniques is to have you videotape yourself making a presentation or doing a mock interview, then have you play the tape back for yourself. It’s as simple as using your phone. Then you can watch yourself in horror and figure out what you need to change. It’s shocking how often authors unconsciously tap their fingers, twiddle their thumbs, fiddle with their collars and say “uh” every seventh word. And they don’t even know they’re doing it. Better to be humiliated by yourself in your living room than in front of the world.

Practice in front of friends and family.

Don’t just practice by yourself in the mirror or to your smartphone. Practice in front of those who know and love you, and in front of those who can be a little critical. Ask for feedback.

Test and revise your material.

Almost everyone is going to ask you: “So what is your book about?” You must have a pithy, fascinating answer that lasts under a minute. That’s your pitch.

Do eyes glaze over? Take that part out of your pitch. What makes your listeners say “oh, wow”? Amplify those parts of your pitch.

Project your voice.

Your audience has to be able to hear you. Watch David demonstrate a technique that’ll help you project your voice. 

One more word: passion. Hopefully that’s what has been fueling your book the whole time. Your passion, in the end, is what will sell your book and make you an interesting, captivating speaker.

Working with a presentation doctor/media coach

Need a little more help? A good presentation doctor or media coach can help you feel comfortable with yourself and your message in front of an audience, a TV camera, a radio mike or a web cam. Presentation doctors and media coaches may come from the world of publishing, from the world of public relations or from the world of acting/directing. A good one will evaluate your presentation skills, determine your strengths and weaknesses and help you with everything from your appearance to eliminating nervous tics, to relaxation techniques, to making eye contact; from something as simple as what to do with your hands to something as complex as comic spin. A good coach will also help you find your message, hone your pitch and learn to deliver it in graceful, potent 15-second sound bites. If you need a presentation doctor or media coach, drop us a line.


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